Collection Overview
Content-Area Literacy

Getting Started with Disciplinary Literacy

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Disciplinary Literacy and Reading Across the Content Areas
 
For teachers in the content areas, Elizabeth Birr Moje's work provides strong guidance for improving disciplinary literacy. Moje's argues that focusing on disciplinary literacy helps teachers understand the thinking and learning demands students face as they move through different content area classes that make up a typical high school day. This post serves as a short introduction to her work in preparation for viewing the video of her excellent keynote at NWP's National Reading Initiative.
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How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text
 
How do engineers write: in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we, as teachers, support students in understanding that writing clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations is an important skill for college and careers? This article presents a structure that emulates what engineers encounter in a peer-review proposal process. Those planning and leading workshops grounded in real-world practices for aspiring engineers or other related professions will find useful ideas here. This article is also applicable to content-area classrooms at the secondary level. 
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Content type
Composing Science
By National Writing Project
In this engaging NWP Radio Show, Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott, two of the authors of Composing Science: A Facilitator's Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom, talk about teaching writing, teaching science, and creating classrooms in which students use writing to learn and think scientifically. In a lively conversation, Kim, a composition and literacy specialist, and Leslie, a science teacher educator with a Ph.D. in physics, talk about concrete strategies and approaches for engaging students in practices that mirror the work that writing accomplishes in the development and dissemination of scientific ideas. Together they address a range of practices that can help students deepen their scientific reasoning. Their book is also an excellent resource for teachers engaged in an inquiry into disciplinary literacy or considering how writing fits within NGSS.
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Students Write Tabloid Tabulations in a Math Gossip Magazine
By Joe Bellacero and Tom Murray
If you are looking for an example of work that integrates mathematics and writing, this one is creative and supported through research related to math. This is a teacher and teacher-consultant's account of a "writing and math" strategy used in the middle school classroom. Students are asked to connect writing, math, and real-world problems. You may find "nuggets" that appeal to you as a teacher and/or facilitator.
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Content type
How Language Minority Students Can Learn in the Content Areas: An Alternative to Silence
By Beth Winningham
A teacher researcher who studied the experiences of five language-minority students over the course of a school year offers concrete suggestions for improving the learning experience of middle/high school students in general, and English learners in particular. This article could be examined as a model of teacher inquiry and student advocacy.
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Mike Rose on Integrating Science and Language Arts in First Grade Using a Culturally Relevant Lens
By Mike Rose
Rose offers an in-depth portrait of a Writing Project teacher integrating the study of science and language arts in her first-grade Baltimore classroom, all while advancing and honoring the cultural knowledge and understanding of her thirty African American students. This chapter, "Baltimore, Maryland" from Rose's Possible Lives, not only highlights curriculum development, but also offers a model for integrating student dialogue and student work while writing about classroom learning.
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Aims and Criteria for Collaboration in Content-Area Classrooms
By Roni Jo Draper, Paul Broomhead, Amy Petersen Jensen, and Daniel Siebert
If you are looking for a book chapter that will help you think through content area reading and writing beyond taking tests and basic writing, read this. Facilitators planning and/or framing the thinking of a group that includes content and literacy specialists will appreciate how the authors propose powerful common "aims" for adolescents' content area learning and offer specific examples to illustrate their thinking.
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7 Posts in this Collection

The WAC Clearinghouse, in distinguishing between a focus on writing in the disciplines (WID) and more general uses of writing such as writing to learn (WTL) or writing to engage (WTE), points to the specific disciplinary purposes that content area teachers might attach to their writing assignments and tasks.

“Writing assignments of this sort are designed to introduce or give students practice with the writing conventions of a discipline and to help them gain familiarity and fluency with specific genres and formats typical of a given discipline. For example, the engineering lab report includes much different information in a format quite different from the annual business report.”

Although teachers at different grades are likely to put differing emphases on the degree to which they expect students to follow the formal conventions of writing in their content areas, they are commonly likely to be focused on the habits of mind and intellectual strategies of the discipline. In fact, the WAC Clearinghouse states: “Without doubt, the single most important reason for assigning writing tasks in disciplinary courses is to introduce students to the thinking and writing of that discipline. Even though students read disciplinary texts and learn course material, until they practice the language of the discipline through writing, they are less likely to learn that language thoroughly.”

Given that NWP sites bring teachers together across disciplines to investigate writing, they are ideal communities of practice to think more about WID approaches and WAC approaches, whether through reading/study groups, action research and inquiry projects, or assignment sharing. The resources collected in this pathway may spark your thinking. Each one, of course, links to additional resources at WLL to take you down a learning pathway.

Up next

Content type
How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text
How do engineers write: in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we, as teachers, support students in understanding that writing clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations is an important skill for college and careers? This article presents a structure that emulates what engineers encounter in a peer-review proposal process. Those planning and leading workshops grounded in real-world practices for aspiring engineers or other related professions will find useful ideas here. This article is also applicable to content-area classrooms at the secondary level. 
Read more
Content type
Composing Science
By National Writing Project
In this engaging NWP Radio Show, Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott, two of the authors of Composing Science: A Facilitator's Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom, talk about teaching writing, teaching science, and creating classrooms in which students use writing to learn and think scientifically. In a lively conversation, Kim, a composition and literacy specialist, and Leslie, a science teacher educator with a Ph.D. in physics, talk about concrete strategies and approaches for engaging students in practices that mirror the work that writing accomplishes in the development and dissemination of scientific ideas. Together they address a range of practices that can help students deepen their scientific reasoning. Their book is also an excellent resource for teachers engaged in an inquiry into disciplinary literacy or considering how writing fits within NGSS.
Read more
Content type
Students Write Tabloid Tabulations in a Math Gossip Magazine
By Joe Bellacero and Tom Murray
If you are looking for an example of work that integrates mathematics and writing, this one is creative and supported through research related to math. This is a teacher and teacher-consultant's account of a "writing and math" strategy used in the middle school classroom. Students are asked to connect writing, math, and real-world problems. You may find "nuggets" that appeal to you as a teacher and/or facilitator.
Read more